Investors, especially first-time investors, worry about time and money. They keep their eyes on the market and current events, and try to predict how the market is going to turn. They also look for the right timeline to start investing to get high returns on their investments. Socially responsible investors also have concerns about how their money can best be applied toward the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) criteria in which they believe.
Right now, the stock market is approaching all-time highs, and a correction is bound to happen. This idea might scare away some first-time investors who are concerned about losing money. However, smart investors don’t put all their eggs in one basket and they diversify their investments between stocks, bonds and other securities. While it depends on your risk tolerances and financial goals, consider impact investing now instead of waiting for conditions to get better. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Don’t Wait Younger investors may be nervous about investing for the first time, and that’s understandable. But young investors have time to get the most out of their investments; even investors closer to retirement may benefit from a combination of a low-risk portfolio and fixed-income options. Worrying about finding the “right time” and chasing good performances shouldn’t be your concern; if you’ve done your research, any time is the right time.
The market might look expensive today, but it might become more expensive a few years down the road. When the market drops, you can buy additional fund shares more cheaply and see your savings benefit once the market turns back. SRI (socially responsible investing) is seeing growth of more than 33 percent; $8.72 trillion in total managed assets can be considered socially responsible in the U.S. alone. It’s a young field, but it’s growing, and you want to get involved while there’s still room to grow.
Know Your Timeline and Risk Tolerance Different investments offer differing degrees of risks and returns — all of which are important to keep in mind. For any stock purchase, including your first one, think about how long you plan on keeping your money in the market. If you have a long timeframe, you can afford to assume some short-term volatility and ride the waves of the stock market; if you need the money sooner or have a shorter timeframe, it’s probably better to play it safe with a diversified portfolio that includes shorter maturity bonds.
For investors interested in SRI vehicles, a wide variety of investment options are available. The field is growing out of being a niche market and becoming more mainstream — meaning it’s possible to invest in what you believe in, no matter what your risk tolerance is. Figuring out your needs, tolerances and goals is part of the impact investing process, and getting in touch with Falcons Rock Impact Investments is a good way to get started.
When to Cash Out Does “buy low, sell high” still hold true? For bonds, the question of when to sell matters less because they sell themselves if held to maturity. Some investors try to predict when the stock market will rise and fall, but there is no way to accurately predict how the market will behave in the short term.
In general, it’s best to stick with a diversified mutual fund for better or worse, unless you have concerns about how your money manager handles your funds. Professional mutual fund managers determine when to buy or sell the stocks or bonds in the fund based on their fundamental analysis of the business, such as the price-to-earnings ratio, a new competitor rendering a product obsolete; the company branching into new and unfamiliar territory; or the company no longer reflecting the values you want to further as an impact investor.
The best way to “buy low and sell high” is to incorporate a rebalancing discipline. Prudent investors establish a target mix of stocks, bonds and other securities based on their objectives and risk tolerance, and then periodically trim the investments that have done well and use those proceeds to buy additional shares of the investments have haven’t done as well. The ongoing goal is bring the portfolio mix back in line with the long-term strategy.
Ignore the Media There are a lot of eyes on Wall Street, but they don’t see everything that goes on in the entire market. Media outlets base their predictions on the behavior of a single index; when it rises, falls or yo-yos, they consider this reflective of the entire market. You won’t get much useful information out of studying these rises and falls, so focus your attention on analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the individual companies into which you plan on putting your money.
SRI investors have a few more criteria to check for with their investments, which may or may not be directly linked to businesses’ bottom lines. Impact investors should watch the media with discretion and review company reports to ensure their investments continue to promote the good they want to see in the world and stay engaged as shareholders when possible. Professional mutual fund managers will serve as shareholder advocates regarding important environmental, social and governance issues.
Check in With Your Portfolio No matter how well you choose your investment vehicles, don’t ignore your portfolio. This is your money; pay attention to what it’s doing while you have it invested, and set aside time to review it at least once every three months and consider rebalancing. Reviewing your investment portfolio also offers you an opportunity to learn from mistakes. Everyone will make them, but successful investors make a point of not repeating them, by paying close attention to their portfolios. Keeping an eye on what you’ve invested in allows you to screen businesses for ESG criteria, and see if you still have the greatest possible impact.
Invest With Falcons Rock Impact Investments Today It’s never too late to start investing, especially when it comes to socially responsible investment vehicles. Every investor has a different set of financial and social priorities, but investing early means you have as much time as possible to get a return on your investment, no matter how the market looks at that moment. If you don’t have the time or expertise to evaluate investment opportunities, consult an advisor before you invest, to make the right decisions for your portfolio. Falcons Rock Impact Investments can help. Learn about our impact investing process so you can start investing as soon as possible.